Last Chance Harvey

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Posted December 24, 2008 in Film

You know all those modern romances where an emotionally ill-equipped man falls for a great girl who teaches him how to love? Last Chance Harvey is what happens after—and writer-director Joel Hopkins is still selling us this narcissist-turned-softy sap as though it’s inspiring. Dennis Hoffman stars as Harvey Shine, a closed-off workaholic who after the tossed rice and wedding cake dreams has now bungled his first marriage. We’re struck by how little everyone thinks of him: his bosses consider him a dinosaur, his ex-wife, a loser, and his daughter, a liability. Naturally, the film pays scant attention to the idea that he might deserve their antipathy, positioning him instead as a loser with feelings, and therefore deserving of Hollywood redemption. Enter Emma Thompson as an airport worker who, for reasons largely attributed to her over-bearing mother (Eileen Atkins) is a spinster doomed to awkward blind dates with very nice shallow men. Her mere existence, somehow, even when she’s uninterested in talking to him, spins Hoffman into an emotional 180; this old dog is ready to love, gosh darn it! The plot dangles on whether he can convince her of it, and rekindle ties with his daughter (Liane Balaban) on the eve of her wedding. The answer is as phony as it gets. Why is it when these movies star women, they’re relegated to Lifetime, but when a man’s problems helm the ship, they’re immediate Oscar contenders? (Amy Nicholson)

 


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